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Happy Holidays

We hope you take some time to chill with those who are deer to you. Warm wishes from all of us at the Snapshot Wisconsin team!

Photo submitted by Snapshot Wisconsin volunteer Chris Yahnke and his students at UW – Stevens Point.

Happy New Year!

Happy Near Year from the Snapshot Wisconsin team! 

2018 brought a year of tremendous growth for Snapshot Wisconsin, and we couldn’t have done it without you! Since the statewide launch in August this year, the project has reached every Wisconsin county with over 1500 volunteers. We cannot thank you enough for your help making Snapshot Wisconsin the success that it is today. Happy New Year, and we can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!

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Thank you for Season 10!

thank youThanks all for another terrific season on Snapshot Wisconsin!  I can’t believe Season 10 of the project has come and gone.  As some of you may have noticed, this season was special, not just because it was our 10th, but it also looked a little different than past seasons.

This season a random selection of our volunteers had the option to work through a series of levels where they were asked not only about the wildlife in the photo, but also about the habitat seen in the photo (e.g. how much snow or green vegetation there was in the photo).  The data contributed by these volunteers produced valuable information that will help us to better understand the relationship between Wisconsin animals and the habitat where they live.  Several recent blog posts have highlighted why this relationship is so important (see here, here, and here if you missed the posts!)

Why did only some volunteers see the levels?

The addition of levels was a big departure from how our Snapshot Wisconsin website has been formatted.  We wanted to carefully examine how this modified experience affects volunteer behavior, learning, and connection to the community. Only a portion of users got to see the experimental site, so we can accurately assess it.  This test is actually part of my research as a PhD student on the Snapshot Wisconsin project.

As team member on Snapshot Wisconsin, my role is to understand the people side of citizen science.  I ask questions like: Why do volunteers get involved in citizen science?  What do volunteers take away from participating?  My goal is to provide feedback that can improve volunteer experience and the science that our project produces.  This season is just one part of that effort.

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White-tailed deer in snow

What are the next steps?

Right now, I’m busy looking at the results of this season. In the near future, Snapshot Wisconsin will return to its normal look.  Whether or not people responded positively to the levels will affect whether the Snapshot Wisconsin Team decides to use the levels during some future seasons.  When I have results to share, we’ll be sure to link to them on the Talk boards and this blog.

How can you help?

One way we’ll assess how volunteers responded to the levels is by looking at how many classifications they completed.  We also want to hear from you directly–regardless of whether or not you had access to the levels.  Snapshot Wisconsin volunteers will receive an email from Zooniverse asking them to complete a survey about their experience this past season.  Your responses are essential in helping us to evaluate Season 10.

What will happen with the photos that have not yet been retired from Season 10?

A handful of photos were not retired before Season 10 ended.  While Season 11 is running, we’ll be busy doing some analysis of the photos to see which need more classifications. We’ll then re-post these photos in Season 12 and beyond.

If you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me via private message on Zoonvierse (@anhaltcm) or on the comments here!  On behalf of the whole team, thank you again for Season 10!

Behind the Scenes – 1400 New Volunteers!

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Aisle of Kits – Science Operations Center Library

The Snapshot Wisconsin team (mainly our awesome summer intern, Ally) spent a lot of time over the summer prepping equipment for our statewide launch. We had over 200 kits made and thought that was a good amount. None of us could have predicted the phenomenal response from new volunteers! Since August 9th we have had more than 1100 people signup to host Snapshot Wisconsin cameras across the state.  Additionally, more than 300 people had signed up in non-open counties over the last 2 years. So, things at Snapshot Wisconsin have been super busy, to put it mildly. We started our fall training schedule last week with in person training in Platteville and Darlington. This week we are off to Merrill and Crandon (the remainder of our training schedule can be seen here).  We also launched a new online training system, including brand new videos, last week. More than 200 people have completed the new online training system and we are working on getting them setup with MySnapshot accounts and getting equipment out the door. Thanks to all the volunteers for their patience and enthusiasm for getting started with our project. We have been working on some automation to better manage the multitudes of new volunteers, in time that should help us to be more efficient.

We are really excited to spend our fall traveling, meeting new volunteers and seeing new photos come in from all over Wisconsin.  Stay tuned for more behind the scenes blog posts to come!

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Sarah and Taylor taking a much needed yoga break

Introducing New Team Member, Emily

Hi everyone,

My name is Emily Buege – I’m the newest Snapshot Wisconsin team member, and I wanted to do a quick blog post to introduce myself.  After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in ecology from Winona State University, I moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where I began working toward my master’s degree in environment & natural resources.  In the mix, I also spent a summer working at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota.

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Me during my fieldwork in Belize.

My master’s thesis examined the distribution of nesting sites for several native fish species in the Bladen River in Southern Belize.  Specifically, I looked at which habitat variables seemed to be most important for each of four species as they chose a site suitable to brood their young.  All four species were cichlids, which are well-known for defending their eggs and fry against predators.  Not only did that parental behavior make for an easy way to identify and record the nest locations, but it was also fascinating to watch!

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Fish checking out my submerged camera trap on the Bladen River.

Being that my project was through the University of Alabama’s Department of Geography, one can imagine that it was spatial in nature.  Combined with my preexisting passion for wildlife conservation, the skills and interests that resulted from my time at UA led me to my new position with Snapshot: Spatial Analyst and Database Manager.  I am very excited to dive into these roles, because the project is rich in spatially-explicit data!  This is especially true with the launch of Phase 2 – all corners of the state will be reporting wildlife data that has previously been unavailable.

In addition to making more maps with our new data, one of the efforts I’m looking forward to working on is data visualization.  Now that Snapshot Wisconsin has collected so much data, there are a lot of opportunities to do visualize that information.  Right now, we have no way of allowing the public to interact with the data or to view a select set of photos.  We hope that as the project grows, we can develop a tool to do just that.  I think that making data interactive and visual allows more people to connect with it on a deeper level.

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See you out in the field and on the message boards!

Emily

Snapshot Wisconsin STATEWIDE!

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We are excited to announce that Snapshot Wisconsin is entering
Phase 2, meaning the project is now open in all 72 counties on both private and public land!

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Snapshot Wisconsin launched in 2016, starting off in only two counties. The project has since grown reaching 26 counties on privately owned lands, while accepted applications from educators and tribal affiliates statewide. Phase 2 of the project will provide an even more accurate “snapshot” of Wisconsin’s unique and diverse wildlife, while expanding the opportunity to all corners of the state for volunteers to experience firsthand the fauna occupying their wild lands.

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The Snapshot Wisconsin team is also debuting a collection of lesson plans, all incorporating photos, data, and concepts related to the project.

Visit our newly updated website for further information regarding the project, sign up for the monthly e-newsletter or to host your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera today!

Snapshot Wisconsin: Behind the Scenes

While Snapshot Wisconsin’s volunteers are busy deploying trail cameras, uploading photos, and classifying wildlife on Zooniverse – what on Earth is there left for the staff to do? Well, with over one thousand project volunteers, there’s quite a bit that must go on behind the scenes as well! From prepping equipment, to answering volunteer questions, to getting lost in the woods (only sometimes) – no two days look the same. This blog post will give you a “snapshot” into life behind the scenes for staff members.

A lot of time is spent preparing equipment. Every camera needs specialized software and labels, SD cards, batteries, a charger, a camera mount and snazzy bag to hold it all together. Equipment needs to be recorded in a database, and frequently stocked up on for incoming volunteers! Some weeks staff members are sending upwards of 30 equipment kits to newly enrolled volunteers who have completed training.

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For technical difficulties, malfunctioning equipment or general questions, staff members are only a phone call or email away! Problem solving skills are a must for the Snapshot Wisconsin team. Rock star staff member Vivek can frequently be spotted answering volunteer calls while simultaneously working to maintain the Snapshot Wisconsin database, with over 22 million photos this can be a full time job in itself.

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One of our favorite “behind the scenes” task involves exploring pieces of the state where the staff can witness some Wisconsin wildlife first hand, and interact with the project volunteers. Staff members are constantly kept on their toes with a wide variety of assignments; other daily tasks range from creating lesson plans, to manipulating data, to writing outreach content (example here!) As busy as we can be kept, we all greatly enjoy the work and have such an immense appreciation for our volunteers that keep the project running! Thank you!

Snapshot Wisconsin opens in 8 new counties

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We’re happy to announce that enrollment recently opened in eight new counties, bringing our county total to 26. Any individual or organization in these counties with access to 10 acres of land is encouraged to apply to host a trail camera. We are also continuing to accept applications from educators and tribal members/affiliates across the state. Check out our project web page and monthly newsletter for complete updates!

Welcome to Season 6!

Here at Snapshot Wisconsin Headquarters, we’re up to our ears in data and we’re scurrying around to compile, assess and analyze what we’ve got. We’ll be posting updates soon on what we’ve got so far (including some really cool maps!). In the meantime, new photos just keep on rolling in, and it’s time for more classifying!

A few new features for Season 6:

  • Fewer photos of common species! That means fewer deer, squirrels, turkeys, raccoons, and bunnies proportional to the total number of photos.
  • New retirement rules that will retire all photos (especially deer photos) more quickly
  • Streamlined interface. Instead of getting a screen showing your classifications, you’ll pop straight to the next photo after pressing “Done.”
  • By and large, we’ve corrected wrong dates and times on the photos. There are still a few (literally just a few) that will have a clearly wrong year (1934 or 2021), but there shouldn’t be any that say nighttime when it’s really day, or winter when it’s really summer.

Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras currently collect about 1 million photos per month, and we’re planning to add a lot more cameras over the next few years! That’s A LOT of photos, and we can’t send them all to Zooniverse. Our trail camera hosts get the first look at the photos they collect, and they do an excellent job helping us identify photos that don’t need to go to Zooniverse. Starting this season, their efforts will allow 75% of the total photos to bypass Zooniverse, leaving just 25% – the cream of the crop.

We hope you enjoy the season with these changes in place! Thanks again for all you do.

Snapshot Wisconsin opens in 6 new counties!

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We’re happy to announce that enrollment is now open in six new counties, bringing our county total to 18. Any individual or organization in these counties with access to 10 acres of land is encouraged to apply to host a trail camera. We are also continuing to accept applications from educators and tribal members/affiliates across the state. Check out our project web page and monthly newsletter for complete updates!